Engineers, Not Patwaris Should Decide If Flood-hit Houses Are Livable: SC Panel

15 October 2014
Kashmir Reader
Marouf Ahmad Parray

Srinagar: Are the houses which were hit by last month's devastating floods in Kashmir livable? To take a decision on the issue, a Supreme Court-appointed panel has advised the state government to appoint a team of engineers and not naib tehsildars or patwaris. 'This job has otherwise been left to naib tehsildars and patwaris who are no experts,' reveals the report prepared separately by Kashmir High Court Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom, who is one of the five members appointed by the Supreme Court to assess ground situation in the aftermath of floods. Besides, the report has drawn as many as 28 other conclusions, mainly questioning government response before and after the floods. 'No effort was made by the government and its agencies to dewater the areas where flood entered and caused havoc, as a result of which, those houses have also collapsed which were not initially affected by the floods,' the report says. It says that even after towns and villages got submerged, no effort was made by the government to evacuate the people and settle them temporarily at some safe place. 'This task was either left to be done by the civilians or to some volunteers,' reads the report, which has been taken on record recently by the Supreme Court. As to whether the relief material has reached the affected people, the report says there is no account of that with anyone. 'It is because of the said reason that 51 truckloads of rice was forcibly taken by Superintendent of police Budgam and stored somewhere elseWhere relief has come from outside, it has been distributed by some NGOs in an unfair and unjust manner. 'There is no record of these NGOs anywhere. They have no doubt provided relief material to certain areas, but not to the one which needed it mostNo checks and balances have been placed on NGOs in the course of distribution of relief. 'Any NGO whether registered or un-registered, on its liking has gone to any area and provided material to the people, without knowing as to where from it came and what was the quantity of the relief sent and what was the one distributed,' says the report. 'The government has utterly failed to provide aid and assistance to the people. No permanent medical camps have been established anywhere to provide medical aid and assistance to the people,' it says. The report further says that in some areas, people have been given free ration after September 17, but in some other areas, they have been forced to pay and no free ration has been provided to them while in some areas people are even waiting for the ration of October. 'In some areas, compensation has been paid for the fully or partially damaged houses, but in certain areas, no survey has been made and no relief hat been paid to them.' The amount paid to the people, whose structures have been washed away or damaged by the floods is insufficient and paltry, the report says. 'By no stretch of imagination, it can be termed to be adequate for re-building or repairing the houses. No relief under SDRF has been paid to any person. In some cases, compensation has been paid to next of the kin of dead but in case of others it has not been so paid because of not recovering the dead bodies. No efforts has however, been made to recover those dead bodies in time.' Where floodwater has entered in an area through breach of protection bunds, the report says no effort has been made by the government to reconstruct the bunds. 'In the areas like Kulgam, Anantnag and Poonch rivers which have changed their direction, no efforts have been made to bring these rivers back to their original position. Any further amount of rain is bound to devastate them againEncroachments have been made on the river beds and constructions have been permitted unauthorizedly. Even constructions which still exist on those river beds have not been demolished to clear the river beds.' BSNL and other cellular companies closed their services during the floods which caused panic and aggravated the sufferings of the people, the report says. 'Even on date, the services have not been restored fully. All the cellular companies, therefore, deserve to be taken to task for their failure to provide service to their customers at the time when it was needed more,' the report says. Since everybody is now coming up with the rehabilitation package for the people who have suffered due to floods, as such for ensuring the relief and rehabilitation packages reach the affected people, presidents of the District Bar Associations-Munsiffs deserve to be associated with it so that they keep a vigil on the distribution. The schools and hospitals, report says, deserve to be fumigated so that the children are able to go to schools and the patients to the hospitals without getting infected. 'The hospitals more particularly G.P.Panth, where nine children died in one day has been left abandoned and even on the day, when we visited the hospital, there was no one from the medical department present,' the report adds.